Helen, Georgia North Georgia

Where to See the Most Colorful Fall Foliage Near Helen

If you’re heading to Helen this fall, you’ve come at the perfect time. Nestled at the foothills of the North Georgia mountains, Helen offers visitors a first-hand look at the wave of colorful fall foliage that will sweep the Blue Ridge Mountains in October and November.

Related: What You Need to Know to Plan a Trip to Helen

Fall is that special time of year when temperatures begin to cool and you can enjoy your morning coffee outdoors during your getaway to Helen. It’s also the season when the earth’s natural colors are warming and you can cozy up in flannel before you step outside the door of your vacation rental to witness the changing leaves. 

Where to See the Most Colorful Fall Foliage Near Helen
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When Does Fall Foliage Peak in Helen?

Peak leaf season is all a guessing game that depends on the patterns of Mother Nature each year, but most forecasters agree with late October to early November. If cold temperatures hit earlier than expected, you could witness changing leaves in Helen by mid-October.

You can stay abreast of the foliage situation by checking Georgia State Parks’ Leaf Watch planner. Regular updates begin in October to keep leaf lovers posted on how fall foliage color is progressing across Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. You’ll even see colorful images crowdsourced from Facebook and Instagram with favorite fall shots throughout the state.

Related: Your Guide to Oktoberfest 2023

11 Spots to See Fall Foliage Near Helen

As natives of North Georgia, these are our top 10 favorite places to see fall foliage near Helen. Make sure you pack your hiking shoes, a light jacket and your camera to capture the beauty of the changing leaves in the North Georgia mountains.

Where to See the Most Colorful Fall Foliage Near Helen: Unicoi State Park
Unicoi Lake at Unicoi State Park

Unicoi State Park

  • 5 minutes from downtown Helen
  • 338 Jane Hurt Yarn R1788 GA-356, Helen, GA
  • $5 parking fee

The 1,050-acre Unicoi State Park is just 2.5 miles north of downtown Helen. Hike the 2.2 mile loop around the Unicoi Lake, mountain bike or zipline around the park to enjoy amazing views of fall foliage. While you’re at the park, you can also stop by Anna Ruby Falls for an additional fee. Reach the falls by walking the 1/2 mile paved trail to the top to two different lookout decks.

Where to See the Most Colorful Fall Foliage Near Helen: Tallulah Gorge

Tallulah Gorge State Park

  • 40 minutes from Helen
  • 338 Jane Hurt Yarn Road, Tallulah Falls, GA
  • $5 parking fee

Tallulah Gorge is one of the most spectacular canyons in the Southeast, measuring in at 2 miles long and 1,000 feet deep. Peak at fall foliage from many lookout spots as you witness the powerful river below. Take the 2.2 mile Hurricane Loop Trail to hit several lookout points, traverse a suspension bridge and hike up and down more than 1,000 steps to experience the gorge from all angles.

Where to See the Most Colorful Fall Foliage Near Helen: Mt. Yonah

Yonah Mountain

  • 10 minutes from Helen
  • 1900 Chambers Road, Cleveland, GA
  • No fee

Hike the difficult, but oh so worth it 2.2 miles up Yonah Mountain to the lookout at the top. Many hikers pack ample snacks and water in their backpacks and wear layers they can take off as the hike intensifies midway.

Brasstown Bald

  • Georgia 180 Spur, Hiawassee, GA
  • 27 minutes from Helen
  • $5 per person for ages 16+, includes entrance and shuttle

Brasstown Bald is Georgia’s highest mountain at 4,784 feet above sea level. On a clear day in the fall, you can see North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. From the top, you’ll have a spectacular 360-degree view of the changing colors of the leaves from the cloud-level observation deck.

View of Lake Trahlyta from Bear Hair Gap Trail in Vogel State Park

Vogel State Park

  • 405 Vogel State Park Road, Blairsville, GA
  • 34 minutes from Helen
  • $5 parking fee

You’ll see the changing color of the fall leaves at Vogel State Park reflected in Lake Trahlyta’s waters. Hike the 1-mile lake loop to see a small waterfall below the dam. Adventurous hikers can tackle the 4-mile Bear Hair Gap Trail, which offers a bird’s eye view of Lake Trahlyta below.

Amicalola Falls State Park

  • 418 Amicalola Falls State Park Road, Dawsonville, GA
  • 1 hour from Helen
  • $5 parking fee

West of Helen, you’ll find the Southeast’s tallest cascading waterfall at Amicalola Falls State Park. In autumn, the 720-foot falls are surrounded by picturesque fall foliage and you’ll find it worth your time to climb the 604 steps to the overlook. 

Wall Art

Blackrock Mountain State Park

  • 3085 Black Rock Mountain Parkway, Mountain City, GA
  • 58 minutes from Helen
  • $5 parking fee

As Georgia’s highest state park with an altitude of 3,640 feet, Black Rock Mountain State Park boasts some of the state’s most outstanding scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Roadside overlooks give way to 80-mile vistas, which are speckled with red, orange and yellow leaves at the peak of fall foliage season.

Appalachian Trail Spots Near Helen

Please note that these images were taken by my phone camera and not exactly at peak leaf season, but they will give you a good idea of the overlooks for fall foliage.

Cow Rock Mountain

  • 20 minutes from Helen
  • Use GPS coordinates N 34°43′18″, W 83°51′24″
  • No fee

Tesnatee Gap to Cow Rock Mountain is a 1.8-mile hike that is great for kids who hike regularly. Perch on boulders at the top to enjoy a snack or picnic while you enjoy the 180-degree views from the northern peak, with an elevation of 3,852 feet.

Preacher’s Rock

  • 42 minutes from Helen
  • Use GPS coordinates N 34°40.67, W 83°59.98
  • No fee

A popular hike for morning sunrises and evening sunsets, Preacher’s Rock is a short and sweet 2-mile out and back trail that offers spectacular views from the top.

Ramrock Mountain

  • 20 minutes from Helen
  • Use GPS coordinates N 34 40′ 23″, W 84 0′ 59″
  • No fee

Across the road from the trailhead for Preacher’s Rock, you’ll find the start of the trail to Ramrock Mountain. It’s a 3.6-mile out-and-back trail that is fairly easy and offers views of the surrounding mountains from 3,737 feet at the top.

What are your favorite places to see the fall foliage near Helen? Comment below.

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I'm a full-time wife and semi-stay-at-home mom to four young kids. Day to day, I help my husband with his small business, but when I have any extra time, you can find me cooking or being active outdoors with my family. We live at the foothills of the North Georgia mountains and are embracing modern homesteading month by month.

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